Cover photo for James "Jim" Ellsworth Peterson's Obituary
James "Jim" Ellsworth Peterson Profile Photo
James "Jim" Ellsworth Peterson

James "Jim" Ellsworth Peterson

d. March 9, 2024

Stillwater, MN

James “Jim” Ellsworth Peterson, 83, of Stillwater, Minnesota passed away at Parmly on the Lake in Chisago City on March 9, 2024. He was born on May 31, 1940, at the Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis to Martin and Magnhild (nee Johnson) Peterson. Jim grew up on Ed Peterson’s Golden Willow Farm in Chisago City. He was the 6th child for Martin and Magnhild. His younger brother, Steve, showed up 5 years after Jim and their younger brothers’ bond was always strong. Steve remarked how the two would race back to the house from the barn and Jim always won. When Jim was asked what his favorite childhood memory was, he said, “Riding bikes at the farm with Steve and my cousins.” The cousins were a plenty with the Bergquists, more Petersons and visiting city cousins the Mellgrens, the Storms and even more Petersons. Biking, sledding on the hill across the road, riding the hay wagons, watching Saturday morning TV shows at the Bergquist’s home, making forts in the hay, playing hide and seek and swimming in Big Green Lake kept the kids happy and busy. Jim got involved in 4H and showed young Holsteins at the county fair. In high school, he played varsity football 5 years starting as an 8th grader and was selected all-conference for all 5 years.

Along with playing football in high school, Jim’s eye set upon a girl, Jeanette Erickson. He worked up the courage to ask her to his junior year prom in 1957. She accepted his invitation. The pairing worked between her outgoing spirit and his kind gentle demeanor: an enjoyable balance was created. Jim graduated from Chisago City High School in 1958. He went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to study truck trafficking management. The separation from Jeanette was difficult but Jim sent her letters. He returned to the Twin Cities and secured a position at Rayette Faberge coordinating their trucks’ routes and destination deliveries. He did propose to Miss Erickson, but she was insistent they wait to marry until she was 21 years, legally able to sign her own marriage certificate. Their wedding was a week later on April 20, 1963, at the Wyoming Lutheran Church.

Jim and Jeanette welcomed their first child, Molly (1966), in their home in Wyoming. Their second child, Martin (1968), arrived while they lived in Chisago City and much to their delight their third child, Greta (1971), arrived before they moved to Stillwater in 1973. They moved into their new house on 3rd Avenue South in a neighborhood which was filled with friends awaiting: the Zolldans, the Breus, the Ziebells, the Bradshaws, the Jensens, the Ogrens, the Browns, the Howalts, the Hobsons, the Friedrichs, the Rodriguezs, the Holmbergs, the Klines, the Dornfelds, the Speers and the Summers. These friends became extremely close-knit through the years: they celebrated life events together.  

Jim and Jeanette joined Trinity Lutheran Church. Jim sang in the church choir. He also joined the St. Croix Valley Chordsmen: the Stillwater Barbershop group. He enjoyed many years of singing with them. Jim continued to work in the truck trafficking field shifting to Briggs Freight. Working nights became a scheduling issue, he was missing out on family events: Marty and Greta’s high school soccer games. Jim decided to be more in charge of his schedule and choose to do medical transcription delivery pick-up and drop-off around the Twin Cities. The extended miles on the road and commuting into the Cities at rush hour finally made him look for employment closer to home. Fairview Hospital needed a van driver to shuttle employees from the hospital to an auxiliary parking lot. Jim found his fit. He was friendly and familiar with the hospital staff. He became a favorite in people’s workdays. Jeanette and Jim shifted their church later to Evangelical Free where they enjoyed supporting a new community of friends and service. 

Jim found pleasure in mowing his yard and shoveling snow, changing his own oil in his truck and planning extended road trips with Jeanette. He would dog-ear places of interest in his Country Living magazines and get his yellow highlighter out to set the routes in his Rand McNally United States Atlas. If he could include a tractor sighting or stop for a slice of pie, the trip would improve in his opinion. He took great pride in his penmanship, paying his bills and balancing his checkbook. Jeanette and he were generous with their time and giving to their church and various causes. At one point in his life, Jim became very interested in sheep, probably his 4H influence and those Country Living magazines. Jim became a shepherd. His friends the Bradshaws had a farm outside of Stillwater and Jim was able to raise his flock out on the land. Lambing season kept him very busy. He would stop by Isabel Grogan’s farm and talk sheep, swapping a ram when needed to help his lines. He also found time to enjoy a good western book or a James Harriot story.

The joys of his life were his grandsons. Marty and Jennifer brought Gavin and Gustav into his life. Greta and Eddie brought Jamal into his life.

Jim and Jeanette’s children and their partners along with their grandsons were loved and appreciated for all the fun and excitement they brought to Jim and Jeanette’s life. They also spent time with Jim’s siblings and their spouses for fun outings. Jim created a full and worthwhile life as a caring, kind, and hard-working person.

In knowing Jim’s end was nearing, his last week was filled with visits from family and friends. Jim was lucky to have his sister, Beverly, living at Parmly, too. At weekly chapel, she would hold his hand and affectionately call him "Jimmy". Jim struggled with memory loss but the right song whether from childhood, church or Barbershop Chorus could surprisingly be pulled from his memory. Jim grew up in a family with strong good singing voices.

At family gatherings, their 7 voices would lead the singing of grace. Each of their voices could be heard. They always got us to the final note with a sense of strong unity.  May Jim find his place with Jeanette again… and may he be able to hold all those wonderful memories of his life well-spent once more.

Jim is preceded in death by Jeanette his wife of 57 years, his parents Magnhild and Martin Peterson, his sisters Rose Marie Bergherr and Mary Lou Munroe. He is survived by his sister Beverly Peterson, his brother Lowell (Joyce), John and Steve (Patti), his children: Molly (Cliff), Marty (Jennifer) and Greta (Eddie) as well as his grandsons Gavin, Gustav and Jamal and nieces and nephew. 

His funeral service will be held at Bradshaw, 2800 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater, Minnesota on Friday, March 22nd. Visitation will be at 2:00 prior to the service at 3:00 with dinner to follow.

A kind gift/donation may be given to Covenant International to help build an elementary school in Liberia. https://www.covenantintl.org/donate-now

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, March 22, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center - Stillwater

2800 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater, MN 55082

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Celebration of Life

Friday, March 22, 2024

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center - Stillwater

2800 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater, MN 55082

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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